Guwahati: “One pedal at a time and you can change the whole world,” Rachit Kulshrestha, a two-time cancer survivor and an inspirational cyclist, said at PedalX, a talk session organised by NGO Pedal for a Change on the occasion of 2nd World Bicycle Day, at Shilpgram, Guwahati on Monday.
The 32-year-old Pune native is a one-armed achiever. He has completed several bicycle races, including the Manali to Khardung La track which is 550 km, and the 530-km-long Nilgiri route. Coming up next, he has a 400-km cycling event in Maharashtra on June 16.
Kulshrestha lost his left arm to cancer at the age of five years, but found the right support from his father to pursue a normal life. His father had said, “If you want to do it, then go ahead and do it”, which remained etched to his mind and heart and has given him the ability to pursue his passion thus so far.
As a child, Kulshrestha cycled to school every day where he played football. He would play as a goalkeeper, an unusual choice for spectators. Reiterating an incident, he said, once he got to play for an inter-school match and he was a substitute goalkeeper. When the main goalie got sick, he was called on field. As he walked towards the goal post, the rival team students and coach already began their celebrations. After all, what a one-handed goalkeeper can do, they thought. During that match, he stopped four goals and his team won by two scores.
The incident served as a major validation for what he believes in: “You can do anything you want to do. You just gotta go out there and do it.”
It wasn’t until he was 27 years that he took to cycling again, when he was diagnosed with limping sarcoma. He got a foot drop [a kind of nerve paralysis which makes it difficult in lifting the front part of the foot] in his right leg and gained an enormous amount of weight.
His friends pushed him to lose weight, but due to foot drop, he couldn’t plat football anymore. And, since he wasn’t a gym person, he opted for cycling. “That’s when my cycling started and there has been no looking back from there,” Kulshrestha said while speaking with EastMojo.
He completed his graduation in Arts from Pune University and has worked in the post production team of movies like Avengers, Zero etc. Currently, he works for an NGO called Adventures Beyond Barriers Foundation, which brings abled and disabled bodies together and conduct adventure events.
Kulshreshtha said that during such events, the participants “forget their differences” and come together in celebration and have a good time.
The biker said he wants to get the title of SR, or super randonneur. “I am already a randonneur [A rider who has successfully completed a 200-kilometre brevet is called a randonneur]. A Super Randonneur is a rider who completes a series of 200, 300, 400 and 600-kilometre brevets within the same season,” he added.
Expressing his wish to participate in the Deccan cliffhanger race in Novermber this year, he said, “I am going to push myself to whatever I can.”